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15.06.2016 - Ausgabe: 3/2016

A landscape park as sports park

Kathrin Albrecht, WES GmbH LandschaftsArchitektur


Located in the Überseespark in Bremen's former docklands (now the 'Überseestadt' quarter), a district dominated by its residential and office buildings with former industrial seaport structures, is a landscaped 6-acre park that incorporates sports amenities. The area extends from the Weserdeich river arm to the harbour buildings of the Holzhafen port and is characterised by its special topographic design that 'naturally' incorporates the sport and play amenities and serves the recreational and leisure needs of the local residents.

During the planning phase, children and young people were invited to attend a 3-month workshop so that they could take part in drawing up the concepts. So even before planning permission was granted, concepts for the construction of areas for skateboard, football and parkour activities were integrated in the project. About half of these had been realised by the time the park was opened in 2014 while others are to be introduced into the landscape in due course.

Surrounded by gently sloping pathways in the north-eastern section of the park is a skatepark that combines street and bowl features. The skatepark and its obstacles were designed in collaboration with Studio L2, DSGN concepts and the local Bremen skateboarder community under the supervision of Bremen's 'Sportgarten' association, which promotes exercise options for young people.

Bremen itself can be reached by three routes - by land, air and - as it is a port - by sea: it can thus be said to have three gateways. These gateways formed the basis for the design concept and have been implemented in the form of cradle, tunnel and doorprint sections.

The skateboard community decided it wanted a particularly challenging bowl section (which is not yet to be found elsewhere in Germany) with incorporated features that would make it into a mecca for the international skateboarder community.
The three gateway concept - land, water and air - is reproduced in the form of the cradle (gateway 1), the tunnel (gateway 2) and the doorprint (gateway 3). The central feature, Bowl Island, forms a closed ring that combines all three gateways and thus also symbolically unites the various nationalities of those who come here to use the facility.

The street section provides the opportunity to creatively employ simulated articles of street furniture, such as steps, handrails, walls and level areas, in a skateboard run. This area has been specifically designed for its function and the use of an individual style idiom, colour coding and surfaces ensures that it is recognised and used as a unified whole.

The open spaces on the four levels on different elevations in the Überseepark provide sufficient scope for the introduction of trick and flow variations by the expert and the beginner.

The elliptically-shaped main level is to be found in the southernmost section. From here, there is access in all directions. There is a circle of green-coloured concrete a third of which is tipped up that places emphasis on the central level and which dovetails with the adjacent embankment. In addition to the colour effect of the green 'pennies' (circular, inclined areas) and strips of artificial turf, there is a double set with handrail, which forms a further highlight of the southern main level. To the west along the neighbouring planted area there is a long bank ramp, the height and angle of inclination of which decrease as it runs from north to south so that it merges with the topography of the amenity as a whole. The 'red bricks hip' in the extension of the ramp provides an optical eye-catcher. The texture of this hip gives it an urban feel and it encompasses a deciduous tree bordering the southwest section.

Incorporated as elements to remind the skateboarders where they actually are is a form in the shape of the key from Bremen's coat of arms together with a mooring bollard at the centre of the space that also provides an historical angle. The bollard once stood in the former plaza of Bremen's main station.
The bow of the key encompasses the tree that is within the space and also serves to link the three levels with each other. It can be accessed by riders from all sides. The bit of the key is partly negotiable and connects with the various levels while at the same time it is also an obstacle that needs to be jumped over. The bollard is implanted in a circular green speed wobble made of wool concrete and its tip emerges from the centre of the wobble.

In the adjacent area to the north, there is a crossover to various banks that are designed to be ridden in a southerly direction. In the central area is a table element for the boarders that connects the various banks with their different heights and inclinations.

Sadly, for reasons of cost, it will not be possible to construct the highlight of the layout, a planned parkour trail.

To be introduced next to the skatepark are two football fields that it will also be possible to upgrade. Ball stop fencing with a height of 4 m will be installed along the front ends of the 30 x 20 m fields. These will be provided with a green artificial turf surfacing to ensure they blend in with the green of the surrounding grassed landscape.

Further to the south and located on a west-facing slope is the children's playground with its maritime feel and various pieces of play equipment. Here there is a large sand pit from which emerges a play ship to remind visitors that sea and port are not far away.

Opposite the playground and also incorporated in the surrounding topography is a dance floor with tartan pattern surfacing. Surrounding this are three seating steps on different levels. The approximately 120 m2 dance floor was requested by the girls who participated in the consultation procedure.

The effect of the robust bastion-like northern apex of the park with an embankment some 3 m in height is bolstered by evergreen pine trees planted in a tight grid pattern, the density of which decreases towards the south. This dark 'black forest' concept provides the northern end of the park with a surprising aspect of depth. Towards the south, the pines are supplemented by trees more characteristic of park landscapes, such as rowan, birch and oak trees. Even further to the south, the pines give way to randomly positioned blossoming trees, including cherry and apple, while other deciduous trees dominate the vista towards the River Weser and the Übersee promenade.

Access to the park is provided by a slightly curving and 2.2 m-wide pathway made of pale-coloured asphalt. Its surface has been smoothed so that it too can be used for sport and exercise activities. In part, it follows the gently profiled edges of the Übersee promenade as far as the northern end of the park where the two paths meet and a plaza-like access to the north and the Eduard-Suling-Strasse is provided.

In common with all pathways in the park - with the exception of the entrance way to the south - these provide full accessibility for all as the slope nowhere exceeds an incline of 5%. In order to overcome the difference in elevation between the Konsul-Smidt-Strasse and the high Übersee promenade there is, in addition to the ramp flanking the eastern side of the park, a pathway with segments with a 6% incline between which are more level segments with just 2% incline that are 4 m in length; this is designed to provide access for wheelchair users and visitors with prams.

Positioned at various points along the pathway are benches where one can rest or observe the diverse activities in the park.


Image: WES LandschaftsArchitektur

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